The final round of Open Mic brings internet superstars like Lewberger (The Try Guys) and The Valleyfolk to show TV fans were comedy lives these days.
The final round of Open Mic bits on "Bring the Funny" really did live up to its title, with some of the strongest acts we've seen yet this season.
One thing this show has us really wanting is an explosion of sketch and variety comedy on television. We need variety shows to make a comeback and we need sketch shows that invite sketch troops from around the globe to come and do what they do.
We say that because tonight featured some truly fantastic work in these areas from acts that have huge online followings. There is an audience for this, and no one on television is really feeding it. "BTF" is shining a spotlight in dark places and just showing how out of touch television has gotten when it comes to where comedy lives and breathes these days.
There were some acts tonight we were genuinely excited about, and most of them did not come from the realm of stand-up. And let's face it, there are stand-up comedy revues everywhere on television. What "BTF" gives us is fresh comedy perspectives we don't see enough of and we are here for it!
Next week, we move on to the Comedy Clash, so the acts that advanced these past few weeks will go head-to-head, so that should be interesting to see. But most importantly, it means another chance to see some of our favorites come out and try to impress us all over again.
Who do I think I am? you ask. Well, I spent nearly a decade of my life sweating and bleeding to the music as a dancer. From a young boy learning a shuffle-ball-change to performing with the St. Louis Ballet Company, I experienced the ups and downs of one of the most difficult physically demanding sports on the planet. During this time, I was also a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, as well as a gymnast, writer and cartoonist. I had a lot more energy in my younger years. And I've spent the last seventeen years analyzing and critiquing reality competition shows for various media publications. I've got this.
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Kenan Thompson, Chrissy Teigen and Jeff Foxworthy. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe. For this round, I'm gonna rank them from worst to first to see who emerges as my top six each week.
(variety) We only got three lines of her song, but it was poorly song and the writing wasn't that sharp. If you're going to retread material this familiar (guys think they can cure lesbianism and no means no), you need a fresh angle or some way to surprise people still and Becca didn't have it.
(stand-up) It was sit-down comedy as he came out on crutches. The small bits that we saw were funny and clever, but he had a really tepid delivery. He needs to really lean into the bits and sell them like his life depends on it, because his stage life does.
(variety) So Lucas just took what goes around online -- funny answers kids write on tests and homework -- and made a bit out of it. So it was about that funny. In other words, not enough.
(stand-up) LeClerc had strong material but his delivery was way too stiff and disconnected. He didn't offer a character or even a personality for us to latch onto. We want to be brought into the stand-up's world and mind, and LeCler was just presenting sharply-written material.
(stand-up) He needs to gain a little confidence in himself as a performer because he has a natural Southern charm and drawing his jokes and his humor from his own life as "white trash" is pretty inspired. It's been done before, sure, but it's always a perspective that isn't heard much in mainstream comedy. That said, stop giggling at your own jokes as it's throwing the rhythm off.
(stand-up) It felt like she was just getting started when it ended, but Erica did the job of reeling us into understanding her perspective and her worldview very well in the short amount of time she had. It was a pretty standard set, but her delivery is fun and memorable in all the right ways. With smarter, sharper material she could really pop.
(sketch) Unfortunately, the overall premise was a little hackneyed -- as in we've seen it a million times before -- but the execution was a lot of fun. We enjoyed the little girl getting involved helping the mole people get a proper scare into her, as well as the closing twist with her father. All in all, it was a successful skit well performed by all members, memorable and funny.
(variety) This trio delivered an original song all about the pretentiousness of people who quit Facebook (for a while) and thumb their noses at all their friends who don't. It even covered the infamous friend purge that's supposed to make you feel special, and the fact that it's all just a ploy for attention. And it was all done with beautiful melodramatics and matching white suits like the best of an "SNL" musical sketch.
(stand-up) What a confident performer onstage. She perhaps over-explained some of her jokes a little bit, but she absolutely sold the narrative of being an overwhelmed mother trying really, really hard not to kill her kids. There were some missed opportunities, but the cohesiveness of the set was nice to see, and we can clearly see her comedy point of view, which was nice.
The Chris and Paul Show
(sketch) The simplest premise was brought to hilarious result through the perfection of performance brought to bear by both of these guys. A whoopee cushion and a death. That's all they needed to have the audience eating out of the palm of their hands. That was just masterful audience control and command from the start. Absolutely stellar stuff!
Maybe we need to blame the edit of the show, but the strongest six acts were the six acts that made it online with their routines. The final act of the night, Lucas Bohn, did get his full act on TV, but it wasn't put online and it wasn't very good.
And yet, it feels odd and stupid that our favorite acts are the only ones you can watch online. And it's not fair to some of the ones who got short-changed on television. Yes, this horse is thorougly dead, but we're going to keep beating it because this is an incredibly short-sighted decision by NBC and one they're making on "AGT" this season, too.
It makes absolutely no sense in the digital age to not take advantage of the platform to expand what you can do on television. Are they that afraid of losing TV viewers to online viewers, because baby, that ship is done sailed and it ain't coming back!
After deliberaton, the six acts moving on were The Valleyfolk, Tacarra Williams, Erica Rhodes, The Chris & Paul Show, Lewberger and Rocky Dale Davis. So yeah, that lined up exactly with the six acts that NBC spotlighted on their YouTube page. Shame on you, NBC for being that lame!
"Bring the Funny" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.